Image: Elizabeth Price, The Woolworths Choir of 1979, 2012, Courtesy the Artist and MOT International, London and Brussels © The Artist
Elizabeth Price was born in Bradford, Yorkshire in 1966 and studied at the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford and the Royal College of Art, London. In 2012 she won the Turner Prize for her solo exhibition, ‘Here’, at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead.
Price makes immersive video installations, which feature diverse historical materials including film and video footage, archival documents, plans and photographs and popular music. Her works are painstakingly produced, often taking over a year to complete, and she regularly revisits older pieces, creating new and updated versions. She punctuates the visual material on the screen with bold, graphic interventions. Texts and slogans recall the aesthetics of advertising as well as political propaganda and combine corporate and academic theories of the world, to create a strange ritualistic undertone. Aural motifs are created from the music and rhythm of finger clicks, claps, percussion and samples of vocal harmonies.
The Woolworths Choir of 1979 (2012) is a film installation which comprises three distinct sections; the first examines the choral architecture of churches; the second concentrates on coordinated dance routines performed by pop groups and backing singers; and the third focuses on archive footage from a fire at the Woolworths department store in Manchester in 1979. Physical gestures recur throughout the film, and parallels are drawn between the movements of hands waving to fire services for help and those of the dancers and singers, twisting and moving their arms for musical emphasis. When combined with the recurring sounds, music and graphics, the effect is that of a dissonant chorus, which floats somewhere between social history and fantasy.